Lakers’ D’Angelo Russell says it’s “great to hear” he’ll close out games regardless of play

Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell was happy to hear he will close out games for the rest of the season.  (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell was happy to hear he will close out games for the rest of the season. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

The towel draped around D’Angelo Russell’s head as he sat on the bench and watched his teammates close out games. The images hardly looked as fun as one of Russell’s dazzling passes or shots.

But with the Lakers’ starting lineup laboring through slow starts, coach Byron Scott leaned on his reserves and their superior collective play. So, Russell stressed he “wasn’t aggravated,” mindful that those reserves helped the Lakers climb out of double-digit deficits. But Russell sounded pleased with the news that Scott will feature him late in games, including when the Lakers (14-55) host the Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) on Tuesday at Staples Center.

“That’s great,” Russell said after practice on Monday at the Lakers’ practice facility in El Segundo. “It’s a great thing to hear.”

Russell reported that Scott did not deliver the news to him personally. Russell simply learned about the development amid media reports from Sunday’s practice that Scott will play the Lakers’ young core late in games “no matter what.” Russell also became aware of Scott’s frustration that the Lakers’ poor starts stemmed from a collective “lack of trust.”

“If he sees that and feels that way, there’s something for him that we’re doing for him to feel that way,” Russell said. “I don’t see it. I feel like we’re always talking to each other and trying to find ways to better each other. Actions speak louder than words. But if he sees it, I guess it’s true.”

Numbers also speak louder than words. In the past three games, Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle have shot a combined 28 of 87 from the field (32.18 percent). But Russell argued those numbers stemmed from each player trying to carry the team through a sluggish start than any lack of trust between teammates.

“That’s what gets us in trouble. Everybody is like I’m going to do it myself,” Russell said. “I’m going to get 40 points tonight and put up crazy numbers to try to lead us to a victory. That’s probably why he doesn’t feel we trust each other. I’m the type of guy that’s thinking, ‘I’m going to do something that will help us win.’ Jordan, Julius, Lou [Williams], everybody is thinking, ‘I’m going to do something for us to win.’ I feel like at this point everybody is like, ‘I’m going to put up points for us to win.’ That’s when we look bad. We don’t make that extra pass when guys are open.”

Russell experienced fluctuating rotations already. He lost his starting position after 20 games because of the Lakers’ slow starts, his inconsistency and Scott’s want to humble him. The same reasons applied for Russell sitting late in games. But prior to Russell’s latest slump last week, he had shown consistency in the previous 10 games when he returned to the starting lineup. Then, Russell averaged 21 points, 4.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from three-point range.

“In this league, a lot goes on with no explanation,” Russell said. “There probably will never be an explanation, especially for a rookie. When things like that go on, you have to stick to your craft and trust the process, come in everyday and try to be the best you can be.”


Lakers’ Byron Scott calls it “50-50” for Kobe Bryant to play vs. Memphis

LA D-Fenders’ Jabari Brown grieving over father’s death, chasing NBA dream

Lakers’ Byron Scott to feature young core late in games “no matter what”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at